Osaka Brand Committee
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Yasumichi Morita
Yasumichi Morita
Ken Miki
Chiaki Murakami
Ryo Yamazaki
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope
#5 How to Train Your Brain for Good Designs: Yasumichi Morita's Theory
Designing is a psychological game whose goal is to make people happy--Yasumichi Morita

Known for his global success in Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York, and London, Yasumichi Morita is one of the most vigorous designers in Japan today, who continues to expand his activities beyond national borders and design genres. While he takes an edgy, gorgeous, and artistic approach to his interior designs, Morita himself cultivates a neutral atmosphere around himself, showing his "plain and natural" sense. In this interview, Morita openly tells us about his design theory and also his views about the people of Kansai (western Japan). 

 I want my designs to be prosperous, not trendy.

(Morita) People may think that designers start their work by planning what is tangible, but I first focus on the mental side. And probably because I inherited the DNA of Osaka natives, I especially consider how I can design spaces that can create good business for my clients. For example, if you want to succeed in an udon restaurant business in a typical, traditional Osaka neighborhood, you want your restaurant to be clean and friendly, rather than fancy and catchy. My design starts from that point. I am a designer, not an artist, and I need to create spaces so that the client's business will expand successfully. My emphasis is on the future prosperity of business, not its temporary popularity. It is my goal to suggest design plans that will become a durable standard, not a short-lived boom. The essential driving force of successful business is word of mouth among people. You may know one or two shops and restaurants that you don't remember the name of but still want to recommend to someone else. I think the power of word-of-mouth communication is enormous. I want my design to be something that will be talked about in such a way.


WATAMI izakaya restaurant (Hong Kong)



 Every design should be haute couture.

(Morita) Each design project is unique and will never be the same. Like a tailor, we designers make what perfectly fits the clients according to their order. While I place top priority on requests from the business owners for whom I work, I also believe that a successful design should make customers and employees happy as well. I always simulate the viewpoints of different people in different positions, imagining myself being an owner, a customer, or a staff member, before I make the final judgment as a designer on which plan should work best.

Carriere Hotel & Travel College (Kyoto, Japan)

Resona Bank (Tokyo, Japan)

My design work begins by building a mental image of the space and thoroughly exploring it.

(Morita) When I design, I do not use a pen until I come up with a solid plan. I would go to a place like a cafe on a busy street, rather than a quiet room, and build a mental image of the space I am designing and then explore it thoroughly in my mind. I examine every possible way of designing the space by putting up imaginary concrete walls, placing counter tables, or taking down other walls that are unnecessary. My first goal of this process is to identify all the demerits of the target space. My next step is to change those demerits into something positive that I can add to the plan. I look for what I can do with those demerits, or more precisely, what cannot be realized without those demerits. Inevitably, I come to see what is necessary and what is not through this process. For example, it may not be effective to put up a sign for a shop on a hidden backstreet, but it could still attract people by adding some luminous elements to its exterior. As I clear this stage and find a way to change disadvantages to advantages, I start seeing how I can make both the business owner and his/her customers happy. However, I have to come up with an original solution and not a copy of the rivals. People from Kansai do not like to imitate someone else's ideas, you know. You cannot beat the competition without the originality that has never been seen before. With those problem-solving ideas and project budget in mind, I begin to put materials together to establish a concrete plan in my head. As the last step, I add a twist to the design plan as a surprise to make people happy. The twist has to be small and humorous, though. If I add a surprise that is obvious and would make everyone point and laugh, people will soon get bored of that design. My goal is always to create a design plan that can be cherished for a long time.

TOKIA Building (corridor) (Tokyo, Japan)

Keifuku Arashiyama Station
(Kyoto, Japan)

What I want but can't find is what I want to create.

(Morita) Today, the fields of designers' work have become borderless. I myself have developed original furniture lines, lighting fixtures, clocks, jewelry, and other products in addition to interior designs. Whatever I design, however, my idea is derived from the same basic thought: I want to create it because I want it but can't find it. While our world is overflowing with things today, it is often difficult for me to find exactly what I am looking for to buy. When I can't find what I want, I make it by myself. Since what I want changes at different times and ages, I never run out of ideas of what I want to make. These days I am interested in designing nursing homes and grave stones.


(table/trunk, sofa) (BALS TOKYO)

True "stylishness" comes from a playful spirit that accompanies empathy and mastery of basics.

(Morita) I have been inspired by many creators. Among them, Master Tsurube (rakugo storyteller Shofukutei Tsurube) is probably the one who takes a similar approach to mine, although our fields are quite different. He is a real professional. He can be so witty and so cool at the same time without going over the edge. He never fails to recognize the feelings of others--he would deliver racy jokes to young people while staying warm and friendly to old people. He is modern and classical. In other words, he has a "haute couture" style while performing rakugo and chatting with fans. In the same sense, my wife (actress Mao Daichi) has also been my inspiration and a person I respect. She is a professional too, who knows how to express herself on a stage based on her knowledge of the basics and traditions she has learned. After I got married to her, my schedule became more oriented to private time rather than work. If I am tired, I cannot make a good design plan. My job is to make people happy, and to make someone happy, I myself have to be happy first.
In recent projects, I especially enjoyed working with custom painter Masataka Kurashina from Tokyo and painter Gaku Azuma from Kansai. It is often said that the people of Kansai, myself included, tend to have a strong personal character. I think it is because many of us are honest and straightforward. I believe what you naturally have is most important for creative work. I know that straightforwardness can sometimes cause misunderstandings, but this is how we Kansai people live.

April 16, 2008
Kana Yoshimi

Yasumichi Morita Profile

Yasumichi Morita
Born in 1967 in Osaka, Yasumichi Morita accumulated experience as  freelance  before he was appointed as chief designer at Imagine, Inc. He established Morita Yasumichi Design Office in 1996 and reorganized it into GLAMOROUS co., ltd. in June 2000. Starting with a project in Hong Kong in 2001, Morita has continuously expanded his activities overseas, including New York, London, and Shanghai. In addition to interior design, Morita works in diverse areas of creation, including graphic  and product design

Author Profile
Kana Yoshimi
Yoshimi works as a copywriter and interviewer and runs her own office, Canariya Company. In collaboration with a talent agency, Yellow Cab WEST, Yoshimi just launched a new project, "Bunkajin," to support cultural figures in the Kansai region with their activities, mainly in casting and producing.